I've been revisiting a few themes that run throughout the biblical narrative. The first is eschatological and the second is pneumatological. Don't get nervous, I will explain the terms shortly. Anyone acquainted with me knows that I am passionate about the historical movements of God. Somehow, I've missed making the connection between our eschatological hope and the end time outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The church has tended to view eschatological (end time) events as dooms day scenarios taking place to "scare" unbelievers away from hell. The movements of God are presented as temporary remedies for people that have strayed from their accepted godly cultural moral principles. Neither of these views have any foundation in church history or in the unfolding prophetic narrative of God’s eternal purpose.
So let's examine a few terms to ensure we are on the same track. When we speak about eschatology or eschatological, we are referencing that part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end time". Pneumatology is the study of God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead and seeks to answer numerous important questions about the Holy Spirit. What I am beginning to see is how one views one of these topics impacts the way they view the other. Having briefly defined the terms, I will refer to things eschatological as "end time" and things pneumatological as "the move of the Spirit". These two themes are perhaps two of the most important areas for study and prayer at this time.
Adding to the already defned terms, let me introduce another which you may be familiar with, "present truth". It is important to note that when I use the term "present truth", I am not implying some new revelation, vision or doctrine that has no scriptural or historical foundation. I use the term to refer to that "portion of truth which is applicable only to those who it is addressed". For example, most of us are familiar with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. In Luther's day, salvation was interwoven with membership in the Catholic Church and mediated through it's priest, liturgies, numerous saints and indulgences. Martin Luther received light on the "truth" of justification by faith. So that "truth", that eternal life cannot be earned by good deeds but is received as the free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, became for those who heard it "present truth". What was "present truth" for his time has become accepted as normative teaching today.
Another example from church history can be drawn from the Great Awakening and more specifically the mnistry of John Wesley. Wesley came to understand by experience and scripture, that the conversion experience was not the end for the believer but the beginning. According to Wesley, there was a "sceond work of grace" resulting in the ongoing process of santification. This "truth" became "present" for those who heard the message and once again, for many people today it is a normative teaching. Church history is filled with these "present truth" moments and in fact, it seems to be these moments that lead to renewal and reformation.
Another point of interest regarding "present truth" was presented by the 19th century scholar Uriah Smith. He states “there are some truths which are important in every age of the world; there are others, which are important, so to speak, only at particular periods. Some run parallel with the course of time; others are developed by the course of time… Every age has had its present truth… The age in which we live, reader, has also has its present truth.” It is this last statement which I find most striking. "The age in which we live… also has its present truth".
I believe that a clear understanding of the end time and the move of the Holy Spirit, may lead to a clear understanding of the "present truth" for our generation.
More to come,